Today's post is by long-time church music leader Chuck Bridwell. Chuck continues to utilize his gifts in music to encourage and strengthen church music programs. His advice is well worth heeding, particularly for those in church music ministry.
Two years ago I retired from full time music ministry after serving 43 years in four churches. However, if you count the five years I served part time in churches while I was going to college and seminary, plus the two years I’ve served in a part time church since I retired, that makes 50 years that I have been privileged to serve the Lord in His ministry. A half a century . . . I can’t believe it.
Someone asked me recently what I learned during those 50 years. Wow, there’s so much that I have learned from teachers and mentors, from fellow staff members, from my family, from choir members and from just surviving my own mistakes. But, if I had to boil it down to just a few I guess here’s what I would say:
1. People are your priority
It’s not really how great a musician you are and it doesn’t matter how outstanding your vocal, conducting or organizational skills are. You’ve got to love people and show it outwardly every time you are with a group or an individual. Sure, it can be frustrating dealing with marginal musicians, unusual personalities and unreliable choir members. But your ministry is about serving people, not making music.
2. Worship leadership is not about you
If God had not given you your musical gifts He would not have called you to be doing what you are doing. The problem is that the term “Christian Musician” can be an oxymoron. A primary trait of being a Christian is humility. A primary tendency of a musician is desiring to “perform” to show others how talented we are and how hard we worked to improve our gifts. When we lead worship we need to remember that it’s not about us. There’s always a constant conflict with this, no matter how long we are in worship leading ministry. We hate to admit it, but we know that it’s always there.
3. Your family is more important than your church
Most music ministers are not lazy. In fact, we tend to be workaholics because we love what we do so much. However, our ministry should never threaten our relationship with our spouse or our children. Even if they are involved in our ministries it is still possible for us to spend too time at the church or take too much work home with us. And if it ever comes to a time of conflict between your church and the well-being of your family just remember that you can always get a new church, but you can’t get a new family.
Well, there’s so much more I could say, but these are just a few things to think about. Isn’t it a great calling to serve the Lord through music ministry?
Chuck Bridwell, now retired from full time music ministry, was a full time Minster of Music for forty-three years. Chuck now consults with churches with his service of ideas and encouragement, Music Ministry Tune Up. He also consults with churches on major music productions. Chuck, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master of Church Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chuck has musical arrangements published by several music publishing companies. In addition, he has had articles and contributions published in books and periodicals. He is a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composer, Authors and Publishers). Chuck and his wife, Debbie, have been married over 40 years and have two married daughters and six grandchildren. While their daughters were still at home the Bridwell family also had seven foster children, one at a time, over a period of eight years. In his spare time, Chuck enjoys playing basketball regularly and making occasional attempts at golf. He also enjoys spectator sports live and on television, travel, and photography. He has served as a special interest speaker on cruise ships for over 20 years and loves to lead groups on tours.
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